Places I’ve Lived: Some Okay Places, And Then The Eighth Circle of Hell
by Danielle Kurtzleben
Where have you lived, Danielle Kurtzleben?
“Crack House,” Northfield, Minn., June-September 2003, $150/month (I think, but how much of my college summers do I remember, anyway?)
I rented a room in this off-campus house the summer before junior year of college, working as one of the coordinators for new student orientation. To this day, I have no idea why it was christened “crack house” (this being a relatively snooty private liberal arts college, the drugs of choice were weed and Adderall). My room was 7’ by 8’ at best, just large enough to house a cheap K-mart futon (never folded out, of course). Said cell easily hit 85 degrees on a hot summer day. I therefore slept naked and uncovered most nights and prayed that my roommates never stumbled in drunkenly mid-evening, which happened rarely.
5300 block of Kimbark Ave. S, Chicago, Ill., June-August 2004, $350/month
Summer before senior year of college. Internship at University of Chicago Press. Lived with one woman who left obscene messages on the house whiteboard about our lack of eco-friendliness (“I asked you to f*cking sort out the recycling so f*cking do it!”) and another woman who insisted she was at one point in the U.S. Olympic trials for the 200 meter dash but also ran 40 miles a week in high school. I Google as many details about her as I can remember whenever she comes to mind (roughly on a yearly basis), in the hopes that I’ll learn she really wasn’t a compulsive liar. No luck yet.
33rd Street and 30th Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn., September 2005-August 2006, $450/month
First home after college and, at the time, my crowning achievement. I rented a bedroom from a 31-year-old woman who had just bought the place. I scored said room because, showing up at the end of what had clearly been a long day of craigslist roommate interviews for the owner, I offered to pay $450/mo instead of the $400 she was asking. She accepted. And then essentially lived with her boyfriend five days a week, giving me a full beautiful house to myself at the age of 22. And then they broke up and she moved back in and I, used to the Shangri-La living experience, moved on.
15th Street and LaSalle Ave. S, Minneapolis, September 2006-May 2008, $575/month
Pros: Three blocks from work, five blocks from then-boyfriend, around the corner from both my salon and the seediest but coolest cult-movie rental place in the city, 1-bedroom (everyone else my age seemed to have studios or rooms in group houses), cheap-ish.
Cons: Virtually no natural light; landlord who, I discovered, had been digging through my shit in my closet…looking for what, I’m not sure…I was a 24-year-old church lady, a.k.a. not owning any exciting underwear or, really, anything too spectacular beyond a Toshiba laptop that died whenever I ran more than one application at once.
North Capitol and Seaton NW, Washington, DC, September 2008-June 2011, $675/month
I lived on the third floor, up a steep flight of stairs, in the “attic” of a group house I shared with three lovely other 20-something women in a remarkably chill neighborhood (for DC, this is). Threw fabulous parties with occasionally rotating roommates. Then everyone decided to go to grad school or buy homes or do other boring “adult” things. Hmph. Such was the beginning of my descent to the 8th circle of hell, also known as…
1st and U NW, Washington, DC, July 2011-August 2012, $950/month
Same neighborhood as above but this time a (barely) finished English basement roughly two blocks away, which I shared with a good friend from college. Quickly discovered that any remotely hard rainfall inspired the shower drains to vomit, sending 1 to 2 inches of silt and water throughout the apartment. Lived for an extended time with all furniture raised up on bricks as a consequence, and on all days when rain was forecast, roommate and I became pros at moving all boxes/valued objects from floor onto beds. Also, had the following (paraphrased) exchange with landlord:
“Hey. Our back door is awfully exposed. Can we get a gate put on as well?”
“There are an awful lot of robberies in the neighborhood. Gate please?”
“Yeah, sure. I’ll get on it.”
“Hey. We were robbed. They kicked in the back door.”
Between this, my close encounter with a rat, the moldy furniture, and the cops waking me up in the middle of the night with their screams when they chased a car thief into our rear doorwell (was this the least secure apartment ever? Potentially…), and also the fact that we eventually flooded 3 times in 10 days, we decided to finally declare to the landlord that he was letting us out of our lease. He readily obliged, which was good, because I was starting to have this unfamiliar emotion that I can only describe as “litigiousness.”
1st and Quincy NW, Washington, DC, August 2012-present, $950/month
In a cruel extension of our difficulties at our prior apartment, the apartment was infested with fleas when we moved in. FLEAS. Despite two flea-bombings, not to mention YET ANOTHER robbery, things are now blissful for me and my lovely roommate. Third-floor apartments cannot flood, after all. I hope.
Danielle Kurtzleben lives in Washington, DC.